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Railroads in U.S. History (1830-2010)

This series offers a fresh perspective on how railroads created and shaped America's financial institutions, America's singular brand of capitalism and its unique way of doing business. The growth of American railroads from 1830 to 1930 is identical with the growth of the nation into the premier industrial power in the world. It is a colorful story that examines the roles and contributions of Johns Hopkins, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould and E.H. Harriman. It is a story that begins a new era in the 21st century with Warren Buffett and his purchase of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.
  • Title ID 63-RUH
  • History, American History, Political Science, Social Studies, Economics
  • 4 Programs
  • 9 Supplemental Files
  • 10th Grade through Post Secondary
  • Released in 2010 by Ambrose Video Publishing Inc./Centre Communications
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Included Programs
Supplemental Files

Included Programs

Railroads Come to America (1830 - 1840)Running time is 29 minutes

The early history of America's railroads, the birth of the steam engine locomotive and how a steam engine works are discussed in Program 1.

Chapter List
The Birth of the Steam Locomotive
British engineer, George Stephenson, invented the first steam locomotive, which started railroads and steam transportation during the Industrial Age and gave birth to the railroad industry.
It All Begins: The Baltimore and Ohio
America's first railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio, got its start with Peter Cooper's first locomotive, Tom Thumb, and later became a leader with Samuel F.B. Morse in telegraph communication as well as making the railroad industry's first multi millionaire, Johns Hopkins.
The Steam Engine
The locomotive, also known as the iron horse, was a steam engine on rails and it needed an engineer and a fireman to operate it.

The First Great Railroad Boom (1841 - 1860)Running time is 28 minutes

Railroads, trains and the railroad industry jumpstarted America's Industrial Age.

Chapter List
America's Brand of Capitalism Emerges from Railroad Fever
The Baltimore & Ohio kick started the America's railroad industry which would lead the American economy to create the unique American brand of capitalism.
Railroads Become Big Business
American railroads were responsible for many innovations, including middle management, cost benefit analysis, the common carrier policy, as well as bringing industrial stocks to Wall Street's stock market and the New York Stock Exchange.
America's First Wave of Rail Lines
America's first railroad boom launched major companies such as the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Reading Railroad, the Erie Railroad, the New York Central Railroad, and the Rock Island Line.

A New Era in American Railroading (1861 - 1870)Running time is 30 minutes

During the Civil War and the years after, America's railroads were responsible for changes in military tactics, innovations to the railroad industry, and the building of the first transcontinental railroad.

Chapter List
President Lincoln's Railroad
President Abraham Lincoln used the Civil War to push through the U.S. Congress ideas for a, transcontinental railroad and a northern military railroad to help win the war against the south.,
Railroads and the Civil War
During the Civil War, railroads proved their importance at the Battle of Chickamauga, a Union defeat under General Rosecrans, by saving the Union army and providing General William Tecumseh Sherman a supply line for his famous March across Georgia.
Depots, Pullman Cars and Airbrakes
Train Depots, George Pullman's Pullman cars, and airbrakes invented by George Westinghouse, were three important innovations in the Civil War Era.
The Transcontinental Railroad
America's first Transcontinental railroad, built by the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific, was a direct result of the Homestead Act and the desire to link California with the rest of the nation.

The Second Great Railroad Boom (1871 - 2010)Running time is 28 minutes

America's Second Railroad Boom made the railroad industry the greatest industry in the United States, but the heyday of the railroads would end in the 20th century and the modern railroad industry of the 21st century would emerge.

Chapter List
The Railroads Move West
Four more transcontinental railroads would be built after the first one, including the Northern Pacific, the Great Northern Railway, the Southern Pacific, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.
The Railroad Robber Barons
The Robber Barons, such as Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt, J.J Hill, William Clark, and William Jackson Palmer, were entrepreneurs who created great railroad empires.
The Federal Government Steps In
Railroad Wars happened when the Robber Barons began charging exorbitant costs on small town farmers and businessmen, which led to the enactment of the Interstate Commerce Commission, used by Teddy Roosevelt to regulate railroad shipping rates.
Consolidation and the Diesel Engine
The railroad industry had become so chaotic that it needed to consolidate, a move led by E.H. Harriman, starting with the Union Pacific at the turn of the 20th century and continuing with the invention of the diesel locomotive in the 1930s.
America's Railroads Today
Modern Railroads are a vital part of the American economy, as seen by Warren Buffet's purchase of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.

Supplemental Files

America's Railroads ca1893
Blackline Master Quizzes for Railroads in US History
MARC Records for RUH
MARC records for the series Railroads in U.S. History (1830-2010)
Railroads in US History Timeline
Teacher's Guide for Railroads in US History
The Erie Railroad ca1851
The First Five Transcontinental Railroads
The New York Central Railroad ca1853
The Southern Railroads ca1860